Frequently asked questions

Learn more about Neighbourhood Watch Victoria

About Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) is a community-based crime prevention program which aims to improve the quality of life within a neighbourhood by minimising preventable crime and promoting closer community ties. The program relies on the community and the police working together in a partnership.

NHW aims to:

  • encourage closer ties between community members and local police
  • minimise the incidence of preventable crime
  • deter criminal activity by increasing the probability of apprehension
  • reduce the fear of crime
  • increase the reporting of crime and suspicious behaviour
  • improve the degree of personal and household security through education
  • support the crime prevention activities of Victoria Police.

We support individuals and groups to create safer, stronger, more active communities. Thanks to our thousands of volunteers and groups in communities across Victoria, we’re able to share information, run events and activities, and work in partnership with Victoria Police and other local organisations to prevent crime and help people feel safer.

 

NHW as a concept originated in the United Kingdom. It started here in Victoria, when it was realised that the Victoria Police alone could not control the rising crime rate, in particular, the high number of burglaries and related thefts. Police sought public support to help reduce these crimes and decided to pilot a Neighbourhood Watch program with the Kananook community (a suburb of Frankston) in 1983. The success of this pilot saw the NHW program expand to other areas in 1984.

Victoria Police launched Neighbourhood Watch in Victoria in 1983 – the first such Neighbourhood Watch organisation in Australia.

No, in 2009 NHW stopped being a Victoria police program and became an independent, not-for-profit organisation. However, we continue to work closely with police on community crime prevention activities.

Neighbourhood Watch is a registered charity. We are independent of Government but work closely with the Department of Justice and Community Safety.

At present, our funding primarily comes from the Department of Justice and Community Safety. We also receive financial support from some of our corporate partners.

Yes, we are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission.

Our state office has a team of 4 staff – CEO Bambi Gordon, Administration and Membership Manager Nicoll Peschek, Marketing and Content Lead Maureen Bathgate and Administration Assistant Sarah Baird. We also have a 10-member independent volunteer Board.

Over the past 30 years, we have seen crime rate reductions of 40% or more in areas that have Neighbourhood Watch groups. This coincides with increased levels of “perceptions of safety” among community members.

We have more than 190 groups spread across 55 of Victoria’s 79 local government areas. We have groups in metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria. Our state office is located at the Victoria Police Centre in Melbourne.

There is a local Neighbourhood Watch group in around 55 Local Government Areas (LGAs). Each group can comprise anywhere from 10 to 700-plus members and operate at a suburb, town, estate, or street level.

The local groups are supported by the State Office which prepares campaign and educational material to share both with member groups and the broader community through social media, events, newsletters, and other channels.

Where there is no local group, the State Office aims to support activities in that community until a new group is formed.

Groups meet with their local police regularly to find out what are the local crime issues.

They then undertake a range of activities including events, letterbox drops, seminars, forums, and community newsletters, all to assist in building awareness of the local crime issues, helping people to learn how to protect themselves from crime and encouraging people to report suspicious activity.

Where once success was measured by the number of volunteers we had across the organisation, we now look at success as the reach and impact of our brand on educating and motivating people to “target harden” against crime and to connect to their community. The reach and impact of our brand is enhanced by our volunteers working with their neighbours and local communities at the grassroots.

Can’t find the answer to your question?

If you’re question isn’t here, you’d like more information or we can help in another way, please contact us.

Programs, activities and events

Currently, our 3 overarching programs are How Safe Is My Place, Building Community Together and Neighbourhood Watch 4 Kids. Each of these core programs has numerous components, some of which include:

  • How safe is my place A free online tool where you can assess how secure your home is and get customised hints and tips to reduce your risk of burglary.
  • How safe is my school An interactive school-based learning resource for primary-school children to help improve their safety knowledge.
  • Travelling in the community An interactive e-learning journey to help parents and kids prepare to travel independently in their neighbourhood.
  • Say Hi A campaign which encourages people to get to know their neighbours, to help improve their feelings of safety, connection and wellbeing.
  • Engage Network An extension of our work creating communities and connecting Victorians. It builds rapport and relationships between organisations whose work contributes towards a safe and engaged community.

Our groups regularly run events throughout the year. Neighbourhood Watch staff also attend several local events and festivals. Although we haven’t been able to do many of our usual activities over the past 2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are looking forward to being back out in the community, as soon as possible.

Some of the activities and events our groups are involved in include:

  • Safe Plate events where number plates are fitted with anti-theft screws
  • Community safety forums and expos,
  • Engraving days where valuables are marked to deter theft
  • Graffiti removal working bees,
  • Information stands at shopping centres and community events
  • Junior Neighbourhood Watch programs in schools
  • Community sausage sizzles and “Coffee with a cop” mornings where crime and its prevention are discussed
  • Managing lost child booths at community events and markets.
  • And many, many more.

Once our calendar of events is back in full swing, we will aim to post as many as we can in our online events calendar.

Getting involved

There are heaps of ways you can get involved with Neighbourhood Watch:

Anyone can become a member of Neighbourhood Watch. All we ask is that you’re committed to working alongside your neighbours and fellow community members to help make the place where you live safer, friendlier and more vibrant.

If you are a property developer and are interested in your estate being part of our Building Community Together program, email our Community Engagement Project Coordinator at engagement@nhw.com.au

If you’re interested in becoming a corporate partner with Neighbourhood Watch, or would like to discuss possible collaborations, email our CEO Bambi Gordon at ceo@nhw.com.au

If you’d like to become part of our Engage Network, contact our Community Engagement Project Coordinator at engagement@nhw.com.au

We love to welcome new volunteers. Get in touch with us by completing our Connect form and we’ll put you in touch with your local group.

Neighbourhood Watch groups

Check out the NHW groups page on our website, where have a list of all physical and online groups listed by Local Government Area.

Once you’ve found out if there’s a group in your area, fill out our Connect form and we’ll put you in touch with them.

If you’re interested in starting a group in your area, our State Office team can provide information and support to get you started. Even if you just want to know more about what’s involved, get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions. To find out more, fill out our Connect form.

First, head to our NHW groups list and see if there’s already a group that covers your area. If there’s not, complete our Connect form and we’ll help you get started.

If there’s not currently a local Neighbourhood Watch Facebook page for your area, please reach out to us using our Connect form and indicate your interest. Once we have your completed NHW membership form and a National Police Check, we will set the page up for you and provide you with resources, guidelines and support to help get you started. All official Neighbourhood Watch Victoria Facebook pages must be accredited by our State Office.

Our local groups run lots of great activities such as school safety programs, graffiti removal working bees, community mural projects, tradies tools events, barbecues, neighbourhood picnics, home safety audits, Safe Plate events and heaps more.

Neighbourhood Watch membership

People get involved with Neighbourhood Watch for many different reasons, whether it’s to improve security around their home, wanting to make their neighbourhood safer, be part of a local group and meet new people or make a difference in their community. Some people join because they’ve been a victim of crime; others because they’ve moved into a new housing development or are starting a family, and protecting family and property becomes more important to them. Neighbourhood Watch helps people connect with their neighbours and others within their community who share the same desires, and this helps boost their feelings of security and general wellbeing.

Anyone is welcome. Our 3000+ members come from all walks of life – students, workers, retirees, men, women, non-binary, young people, , LGBTIQA+ people, mums and dads, and people from many culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

First, check out our NHW groups list to see if there’s a group in your area. If there is, fill out our Connect form  and we’ll put you in touch with them. A representative of your local NHW group will contact you to introduce you to the group and sort out your membership.

Enthusiasm, positivity, and a willingness to work alongside your neighbours and other community members to help make your community safer, stronger and better connected.

There are roles in Neighbourhood Watch that cater for your skills, energy and interests. There literally is something for everyone. Some of the things you may do include:

  • Directly support the police in reducing crime in your local area.
  • Deliver newsletters to households in your area.
  • Help at community events with distributing material and sharing info on Neighbourhood Watch, crime prevention, home security and personal safety.
  • Assist with crime prevention activities such as installing theft-resistant screws on car number plates or engraving bikes and other valuables for easy identification.
  • Help produce a Neighbourhood Watch newsletter for your local area.
  • Help manage your group’s local Facebook page.
  • Taking a management role in NHW including being Secretary or Treasurer of a local group.

Some of the volunteer roles our groups have include:

  • Chair/Manager
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Membership coordinator
  • Newsletter editor
  • Website coordinator
  • Social media coordinator
  • Newsletter deliverers
  • Event coordinator
  • Event workers
  • Project coordinators

How much of your time you give, is totally up to you.

Most groups have regular meetings which all members are encouraged to attend to learn more about crime and its prevention in their area. Attendance at meetings, however, is not compulsory.

Reporting crimes and anti-social behaviour

None. Neighbourhood Watch is not a crime reporting service. We can only provide tips and advice on how you can protect yourself from crime.

Crimes should be reported to:

  • Victoria Police on Triple Zero (000), if it’s happening now
  • the Police Assistance Line on 131 444, if it’s not urgent
  • Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, if you wish to report information about crimes confidentially

When it comes to crime and police, if something is happening NOW, call Triple Zero (000). They will decide whether it is a priority to attend. If the situation has passed and doesn’t need immediate police attention, call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or report it online. With fire and ambulance services, call triple Triple Zero (000) if life or property is being threatened, if someone needs urgent medical attention or you see flames.

Call the Police Assistance line on 131 444 if the crime has already happened or you don’t need police to respond straight away, eg: to report theft, property damage, lost property or COVID-19 breaches, to register a party or absence from residence or for general police enquiries. You can report non-urgent crimes or events 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also submit an online report.

Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to report crime information confidentially, provide information about people, incidents or vehicles of interest to police or information that could prevent a crime. You can also lodge an online report.

No, Neighbourhood Watch can only provide information and tips about how to get to know your neighbours.

If you’re having issues with your neighbours, it’s always best to try and constructively work out any problems together first, before making any formal complaints or reports. This helps you maintain a good relationship with them, so you can deal with any future issues in a friendly and informal way.

If the problem continues, who to contact depends upon the issue. If it’s about animals or unreasonable residential noise, contact your local council. If it’s about noise late at night, like loud parties, or where the noisy neighbour might also be threatening, call police when it’s happening.

If you believe something criminal has occurred or might occur, contact either the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or report it to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Behaviour is suspicious, not people. It’s when someone is doing something that seems unusual and out of place from what’s normal. Just because someone you don’t know is walking down your street or sitting in a car, doesn’t mean they’re suspicious. But if they are looking into multiple car windows and trying door handles or going through home letterboxes or trying to enter your neighbour’s house when you know they’re not home – that’s suspicious.

Crime statistics

The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) is an independent organisation responsible for processing and analysing Victorian crime statistics and making them public. It’s where the public and community organisations can get accurate crime data, independent of Victoria Police. The figures are released quarterly – in March, June, September, and December. These releases include the number and rate of offences across Victoria, demographic characteristics of victims and alleged offenders and family and domestic violence incidents.

The Crime Statistics Agency website has an interactive tool called “Latest crime data by area” where you can see what’s going on in within your local government area (LGA), postcode, suburb or town.

The Data Visualisation tool presents the data for each LGA in a clear, visual, easy-to-understand format and provides statistics for the previous 10 years.  

If you’d like to see statistics for your particular town or suburb over the past 10 years, go to the “Tabular Visualisation” section, select the data type you wish to view, then click on the “Postcode and suburb/town” tab.

NHW groups have close relationships with their local police and can get de-identified information on local issues and crimes and recent crimes trends. Most NHW groups publish this information at their regular meetings, in their newsletters or on their social media. It’s another great benefit of being involved with your local group.

Neighbourhood Watch myths and misconceptions

Yes, we sure are – 38 years old and still going strong. We have more than 190 local Neighbourhood Watch groups across rural, regional and metropolitan Victoria. We probably have one in your area.

No – until 2009 both Neighbourhood Watch and Safety House were programs run by Victoria Police. Since 2009, Neighbourhood Watch has been run as an independent not-for-profit organisation. The Safety House program closed some years ago.

Nope. Although we started out as a Victoria Police program, we’re now an independent, community-based charity and have been since 2009. However, we still work closely with Victoria Police on community crime prevention.

No, we don’t have teams of people doing street patrols – that’s what the police are for! But we do support police in helping to spread crime prevention information and encouraging people to report suspicious behaviour.

Neighbourhood Watchers come from all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds. We pride ourselves on being an open, inclusive organisation, welcoming people from all walks of life.

Over the years our work has evolved, but at our core we still help people learn how to protect themselves from crime. We’re also about encouraging neighbours to get to know one another, interact and work together to create strong, vibrant, safe, connected neighbourhoods. Part of our work involves encouraging neighbours to watch out for each other and report any suspicious behaviour they see in their neighbourhood – such as strangers looking in multiple letterboxes along the street, trying the door handles of several different cars or an intruder lurking in a neighbour’s yard.